Euronymous was a founder of and central figure in the early Norwegian Black Metal scene. He was a co-founder and guitarist of the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem and was the only constant member from the band’s formation in 1984 until his death in 1993. He was also founder and owner of the extreme metal record label ‘Deathlike Silence Productions’ and record shop Helvete in Norway.
Euronymous professed to be a Satanist and was known for making extreme misanthropic statements. He presented himself as leading a militant cult-like group known as the “Black Metal Inner Circle”. How much of this was image, bravado, bullshit or just youthful boasting to create a bigger image? We’ll never truly know.
In August 1993, he was murdered by fellow musician Varg Vikernes. Its a complicated and tangled web of who did what to whom and when and staggeringly why but ultimately several people lost their lives in all of this and today we remember one of the pivotal figures of Norweigan Black Metal Euronymous.
Recently the subject of the shocking and true film ‘Lords Of Chaos’ Øystein was one of the lead roles for all of the above. He was possibly responsible for taking what the likes of Venom were doing in the UK and taking it across the line and making the sounds of Bathory, Hellhammer more extreme more brutal more antisocial. For the pioneering groundbreaking contribution to extreme metal, we remember Euronymous and hope he rests in peace wherever that may be.
The recent film ‘Lords Of Chaos’ loosely tells the story of Euronymous and his inner circle and depicts his horrific and violent demise at the hands of Varg. We reviewed the film Here It does depict their scene as a band of misfits bonded by dark ideals and metal. It was Aarseth who discovered his singer after his suicide and it was he who took the picture of his dead bloodied body and took pictures and allegedly took pieces of Deads skull. However, he was also the guy who set up his own label, set up his own record shop and pioneered a network of worldwide black metal fans (remember this is pre-internet) he also set up base in his own record store Hellvete.
Its his raw and brutal songwriting that set the blueprint for many others to follow check out the riff on ‘Deathcrush’
Wow, maybe one of the most contentious movies associated with rock/metal ever. If you only have a passing interest you will be familiar with Norweigan Black Metal that came to prominence in the early ’90s and what went down. well, music fans, ‘Lords of Chaos: Truth And Lies’ is really gonna split the audience (those who know and those who don’t give two shits). It’s dark, It’s goofy, it’s horrific but most shockingly it was real.
Sure from a movie perspective, it’s Hollywood and glossy and slick which is everything that Norweigan Black Metal wasn’t. It’s not the kind of movie you would want to take that girl on a first date. You wouldn’t want to put on your best Waynes world baseball cap and those high tops and go with your mates to watch a Metal movie especially if they’re true Black Metal and to be honest, it doesn’t paint the community in a very good light at all not to the uninitiated it doesn’t – No sir.
There is a certain authenticity with this move in some of the cast are fans of the genre and knew the story and the Director was an original member of first wave pioneers Bathory so they know their shit before the purists jump on it.
Casting Varg as a larger Jewish actor couldn’t have been a coincidence, Whilst in the main, the acting is excellent its not the most PC of communities to begin with (tolerance wasn’t exactly a motivator) and they generally lived by their own rules (or so they thought) It mostly focusses around Øystein Aarseth otherwise known as Euronymous the leader of Mayhem one of the forerunners of the second wave of Black Metal and the people who circled around his orbit.
Right enough of the back story. One thing I struggled to get my head around was the Americanisation and the accents, that was a shame, seeing as they were Norwegians no attempt to even put an accent on was made which might have added to the whole Bill and Ted goofy-ness of parts of the film. I thought the writers made a good fist of making it unglamorous and painting the main baddie (Varg) in a suitably bad light. The guys political beliefs are extreme as are a lot of the people in this genre they don’t come across as welcoming – accepting people and the whole church burning is dangerous criminality.
There is very little that was cool about what happened back in the early 90s especially to four of these people (one suicide, two murders and a firefighter who died trying to clean up their handiwork) The film doesn’t cover him (Varg) in glory at all and he comes across as an unstable loser and help was what he really needed not women feeding his narcism. The scorpions patch made me giggle as did the fact that one of the most Black Metallers real names is Kristian – and not The Count – perfect. Not the nicest of people and that really comes across in the movie. I also think that needed to be the case you couldn’t make what these guys were doing acceptable and paint them as victims I do think a lot of the time it was one-upmanship that got out of hand and they aren’t really full-on criminals just a bunch of sheep being led by a few truly dark characters and it got way out of hand. If it were a made up story from start to end you’d be commending the writer on such a twisted dark story but the fact that it’s based around true stories is staggering.
The casting is engaging (that’s not to say likable) there is a certain amount of Goofy Bill and Ted about the whole thing (the way its narrated) but that’s the point – its not gone down well within the metal community (was it ever going to?) The thing is there doesn’t seem much inward reflecting going on in extreme metal, quite the narcissists I mean c’mon, to the man on the street kids running round in corpse paint is gonna look a bit goofy and dorkish – its cosplay for extremists isn’t it? Venom took the piss people didn’t really think their misogynist ways were real and they didn’t sleep in coffins and I don’t think they ate sacrificial virgins either. If you can’t see the humour and piss-taking then you’re maybe a bit of a lost cause. Sometimes its good to take time to have a bit of a laugh at ones self isn’t it?
The church burnings look convincing and the bloody scenes are hard to watch. It has to be said that the Director has gone the extra mile in the attention to detail especially on things like the record shop ‘Hellvete’ time period t-shirts, patches, the transition from famous pictures from the scene cutting to real-time acting is excellent. As for the cast, Rory Culkin is spot on and his portrayal of Euronymous and is really watchable as is Dead and he does make the character engaging and believable.
The thing with ‘Lords Of Chaos’ is I can’t say I enjoyed watching it but did find it well done and captivating. I kept having to remind myself that it’s real and these things did happen. My God (sorry satan or Odin), they barely touched upon the horror of Faust’s murder of an innocent man in Olympic Park and it seemed like it was added as an afterthought and what went down is truly shocking. I find myself questioning whether I should be listening to their music I know they were kids when all these things happen and you’d like to think that what they did in their teens they’ve learned the lesson that it isn’t acceptable and you hope they are sorry for their crimes and today they are decent humans who aren’t just nice to their mams.
I think since the early ’90s there has been an amount of the rewriting of history and revising of beliefs and the whys and wherefores to justify what happened but at no time does Lords Of Chaos glorify what happened.
The one thing this movie does is it manages to make the main players in the scene look daft as brushes (albeit sinister and unrepentant cold-blooded dangerous people) They started out a bit childish none of the people come out of it in a good light and there isn’t any back-patting going on in the writing and performing.
Years in the making its a shame that the bands didn’t sign off their music except for the opening bit of ‘Deathcrush’. Take care kids – treat Black Metal with care and continue dissecting genres into subgenres then subgenres of the subgenres and making the metal more extreme than before but remember, the general public is indeed sniggering behind your backs. and why not look in the mirror laugh at yourself it’s not the be all end all (all the time) so for now party on dudes!
Now let the metalheads bicker over the shape of the actors -the music genre labels and how authentic the metal is. but if you haven’t got a clue about the detail and took the movie for being just a movie as an uninitiated then it makes for a great Horror flick based around a music scene in a beautiful yet dark part of the world – hail Santa! it is Santa isn’t it? Christmas metal now that’s a genre not investigated. shockin? You bet. To unravel what went on is mindblowing for some quite literally – Prepare to be shocked.